Lawyers for 43-year-old Ronald Phillips have asked that the United States Supreme Court delay the scheduled execution of their client. Phillips is set to be put to death by lethal injection on July 26 in the state of Ohio. At the center of the attorneys’ objection is the Midazolam, a sedative used in the lethal injection protocol. The attorneys’ plea to the highest court asks the justices to also stay the executions of Ohio death row inmates Raymond Tibbetts and Gary Otte while the suit is pending ruling.

Last month, a federal appeals court decided in an 8-6 ruling that Ohio’s injection protocol is good to go. If everything goes according to plan, capital punishment will be exacted and Phillips will die for his 1993 conviction.

He raped and murdered the three-year-old daughter of his girlfriend.

Objections raised about sedative, midazolam

His execution is slated to be Ohio’s first in three years after setbacks due to government and legal challenges following the execution of Dennis McQuire. For McQuire’s execution, the state used a previously untested mix of drugs to effect his death. The drug combination included midazolam. Opponents, to the drug’s use in executions, fault it for causing McGuire to choke and gasp for the 26 minutes it took for him to die.

Clemency for Phillips was unanimously opposed in December by the Ohio Parole Board, which ranked his crime “the worst of the worst.” The aunt and the half-sister of the little girl Phillips murdered asked the state to proceed with carrying out the capital punishment against Phillips to effect closure for the family.

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Advocacy groups and five former, exonerated death row inmates have sought to sway John Kasich, Ohio’s governor, to delay the execution of Phillips. Among those asking Kasich to postpone killing the rapist-murderer is Judge James Brogan, retired 2nd District Court of Appeals. Brogan said it’s “troubling” that Ohio intends to resume executions while a state Supreme Court task force made 56 recommendations that, for the most part, have been ignored, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Bogan asserted that the state’s legislators should consider the task force’s recommendations prior to continuing executions. If not, problems will persist at the core level and possibly cause “wrongful” death penalty convictions, he stated.

Governor asked to look at flaws with injection protocol

A total of 17 former corrections administrators and officials sent Kasich a letter cautioning about the potential for errors that may stem from using midazolam. They pointed out problems arising during executions carried out in Arizona and Alabama, as well as in Ohio.

Former Ohio prison warden Rex Kent stated that members of the execution team frequently encounter anxiety and stress as a result of carrying out “routine executions,” according to Cleveland.com.

During a July 19 news conference, Kent stated that when something, unexpected, happens during executions or when death row inmates have been exonerated the psychological damage to the execution team members should be considered.

Kasich hasn’t been swayed, so far, to delay Phillips’ demise by lethal injection. On Wednesday, instead of attending the Ohio State Fair’s opening, according to the Dayton Daily News, Kasich will be monitoring the “activities” at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, also dubbed the “Death House.”